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Ten Detective Aces, July, 1942
Hell-Scent Headlines
A “Dizzy Duo” Yarn
By Joe Archibald
Snooty Piper, who has a nose for crime-town news, dogs the
footsteps of a murdering skunk to bring in a homicide scoop.
ITIZENS should not go out and
look for crime but it happens to be
our bread and butter, mine and
Snooty Piper’s. A character handing out
Sunday school attendance buttons never
makes news and the public that reads Mr.
Guppy’s Evening Star will not bother to
read about a new cure for ailments of
animals. War and murder and other
violence is their dish. We walk into a
precinct station in Dorchester one night to
see if there is at least an account of a crap
game raid on the blotter.
“What goes?” Snooty asks the big
Irishman at the desk.
“Only the clock,” the bored gendarme
says. “And something else I wish would. A
detective named O’Shaughnessy.”
“What is that gland case doin’ here at
this time of night?” Snooty asks.
“We arrested three or four guys for
disorderly conduct this afternoon,” the
sergeant says. “Iron Jaw is cross-examining
every new prisoner in all the Boston jails,
hoping that he will fit on the glove he
found near the girdle factory.”
“He is very thorough,” I says.
Just then a character who should be
mechanized for the army comes out of a
door and he is in a vile temper. It is Iron
Jaw O’Shaughnessy, who needs an arrest
that will stick more than Hitler needs an
astrologer in Russia. Iron Jaw is a fugitive
from a sideshow and he is three hundred
pounds of blubber that has a derby hat on
one end and a pair of size sixteen shoes on
the other. To make a shoe for Iron Jaw,
Snooty said once, they just peel a hide off a
cow and put laces in it.
“Well, good evening,” Snooty says
politely. “Have you got a girdle on that
bothers you, Iron Jaw? You look in agony.”
C
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 2
“I’ll get that gang of rubber thieves
yet,” Iron Jaw growls. “It is sabotage. It is
treason .against the government, stealin’
girdles, auto tires and hot water bottles.”
“When you get them I bet you will see
that they get a two-way stretch,” Snooty
says and leans against the desk and laughs.
The guy at the desk orders us all to get
to (you know) out and Snooty goes out first
as Iron Jaw grabs him by the seat of the
pants and the scruff of the neck and tosses
him like he is only a sack of peanuts.
Snooty misses a broken neck by a narrow
margin and I have to give him artificial
respiration, which I learned in a first-aid
class.
“You will get a letter from a lawyer in
the morning,” Snooty says to the flatfoot.
But Iron Jaw does not hear him as he is
jumping up and down on the sidewalk and
swearing like a bo’sun’s mate.
“Why, somebody stole all of Iron Jaw’s
tires, Snooty. What a dirty trick!”
“In front of a police station at that,”
Snooty says. “Are you sure you had the
tires when you came in, Iron Jaw?”
A cop yells at us from the door of the
branch bastille. “Hey, hop in here, guys,”
he yelps.
We go back in. The Mick at the desk
says a murder took place just twenty blocks
away.
“In a parkin’ space behind a beer an’
spaghetti joint. A citizen got bashed over
the noodle and is about ready for autopsy
bait. There should be news there.”
E GO over to the middle-class night
spot with the cops. The place is
empty, since all the customers are out back
to get a look at the victim. Iron Jaw clears
most of the crowd away and looks down at
a very well dressed character who is spread
out like a tiger rug near a snazzy
convertible coupe. Two cops pick up a doll
and Snooty picks up a hat Iron Jaw has
stepped on. There is no telling what shape
it was in as when O’Shaughnessy steps on
anything, it is passé. Even a Jeep car.
“What does anybody know about this?”
Iron Jaw yips.
“We don’t know a thing,” a customer
says. “This guy who is on the ground got
up from his table awhile ago and we heard
him tell his doll he was going to bring the
car around. He didn’t come back and then
she went lookin’ for him. We heard her
screech and run out. The doll passed out.”
An M.D. arrives and takes over. He
works on the character and revives him.
But not for long.
“Everybody be quiet,” the croaker says.
“He is mumbling somethin’.”
The victim moves his lips and the
doctor puts his ear against his mouth. After
awhile the M.D. gets up and he says we
have a corpse on our hands.
“What did he say?” Iron Jaw growls.
“I’m in charge here. Maybe you and the
corpse have got a secret, hah?”
“Hold your shorts on, Tiny,” the M.D.
says testily. “The guy said somethin’ about
the breath of his assailant smelling like
garlic.”
“So!” the big flatfoot howls.
“Somebody right around here knocked the
guy off. They serve Italian spaghetti here,
don’t they?”
“Marvelous,” Snooty sniffs. “So you
think nobody but a Latin eats that, do you?
You get worse all the time, Iron Jaw. Did
somebody send for the stiff expert?”
They take a roll of dough out of the
defunct taxpayer’s pocket, so the motive is
not robbery. Cards and letters tell us the
character was named Bunker Hillary and
that he lived in a spiffy section of
Dorchester.
“Hillary!” a spectator says quickly.
“Why, he is a big shot around here. Owns a
chocolate factory in Somerville.”
The character’s wife comes out of the
W
HELL-SCENT HEADLINES 3
coma. She screams twice, then stays quiet.
Iron Jaw asks her did Bunker have any
enemies who would profit in any way by
his last rites. Iron Jaw would ask a citizen
who just fell off the State Street tower if he
could name the forty-eight states and all
their capitals.
“I would wait awhile,” Snooty says as
he comes from behind the coupe. “The doll
has had a shock as she does not have a
husband knocked off every night. An
undertaker must have taught you first aid.”
I hand Mrs. Hillary her skypiece and
she looks at it and tosses it away. She is
hysterical and says what else could happen
to her? Her new hat gone and also Bunker.
Iron Jaw sees that she is given
transportation home and we hear him order
two cops to guard her house.
“And don’t let nobody see her but me,”
Iron Jaw says. “Especially, you have got
orders to break some skulls if they happen
to belong to newspaper clucks like Binney
and Piper here. They won’t mess up this
case.”
Snooty picks up the doll’s hat and takes
a feather out of it. “It is a swell shade of
green,” he says. “I will put it in the hatband
of my green hat.”
“You would take the lodge emblem off
a Elk if he was laid out in a corning parlor,
wouldn’t you, Snooty?” I ask nastily. “I
wonder what the dishonest person hit
Bunker with.”
“It was not a piece of smorgasbord,” I
says, and watch Iron Jaw and his hirelings
look for clues. They do not seem to find
any.
“It could have been attempted robbery,”
I offers. “The criminal was combing the
victim for the roll when the doll came out
to look for her better half.”
“Nobody ast you,” Iron Jaw says. We
follow the big oaf into the spaghetti joint
and Iron Jaw lines all the cooks and waiters
and bus boys up against the wall but he
cannot prove that any of the employees left
the joint at about the same time as Bunker
did.
“No clues,” Iron Jaw growls. “Well,
whoever done it won’t git away with it.”
“What are you puttin’ in your pocket?”
I says to Snooty Piper. “Oh, I saw you—”
“Scoop, I-sh-h-h!”
“I heard you, Binney!” Iron Jaw bays.
“Yeah, you got somethin’, Piper? Grab
him, everybody. I’ll turn him inside out.”
HEY spread Snooty on the floor and
Iron Jaw straddles him and he combs
the crackpot’s person from cowlick to
instep but he does not find anything that
looks like a clue.
“I was kiddin’,” Snooty says as he
gathers up his personal belongings. “You
didn’t have to rip the linin’ out of my coat,
you sperm whale. I will launch a charge of
assault, Scoop!”
“I am thirsty,” I says. “Let us go to the
Greek’s.”
We go over to Boston proper and visit
our favorite bistro.
“With clues,” Snooty says. “Iron Jaw
gets nowheres. Without any, he might as
well not start out. Murders without motives
are brain teasers for even people like
Sherlock Holmes and William Powell.”
“It was somebody who et garlic,” I
says. “So there is a clue.”
“How many Latins in the U. S.?”
Snooty asks me with a sneer. “Why, I
know lots of Americans whose ancestors
booked passage on the Mayflower who
wipe their salad bowls with it. I wonder if
Mrs. Hillary knows somethin’, Scoop.
Maybe Iron Jaw has us stymied this time.”
“She was a swell number for a widow,”
I tells Snooty. “A red windblown bob and
nice gams and teeth.”
“Redheads are very interesting to me,”
Snooty says. “Speakin’ of dames, I have a
date tomorrer with a couple of smooches. I
T
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 4
need a friend.”
“I didn’t hear a word you said, Snooty.”
The next morning we are sitting in the
city room of the Evening Star knocking out
some drab copy when the word drops in on
us. Iron Jaw has arrested a citizen for
murder. His name is Giglio Gorgonzola
and he used to be a gardener for Bunker
Hillary. Giglio has no alibi and what is
more, they found a sashweight in the
pocket in the door of his old jalopy. Giglio
told the cops that he kept it there to knock
fenders back into shape as he was not in a
way to afford a car body expert every day.
His wife had just taken up driving.
“What do you know about that?” I says,
then go on reading.
The story says Bunker Hillary fired
Giglio from his employ because he found
out Giglio was a pro-Fascist and found
letters in Giglio’s cubicle over the garage
to prove it. Mrs. Hillary told the gendarmes
and the D.A. that Bunker was going to turn
the fifth column flimsies over to the F.B.I.
and that Giglio had threatened Bunker with
dire consequences if he did such a thing.
Giglio admitted that he tried to scare the
pants off Bunker.
“I am innocent,” Gorgonzola was
quoted as having said in the grill room. “I
eat lotsa garlic as there ees no law against.
The evidence ees circumstansible. I know
where I was at the time of the murder but
she ees none of your business, Meester
Deestricks Attorney.”
“Well, that is that,” I says. “Iron Jaw
did it at last.”
“Looks like it, doesn’t it, Scoop? Well,
I was sure we had a chance on a long
murder case. Yeah, they got the
sashweight. He threatened the Hillarys and
the cops had to wear gas masks while
grilling him. Gorgonzola will make quite a
rarebit when they strap him to the sizzle
seat. All dishonest citizens make a slip
sooner or later. Giglio forgot to stop
breathing. And he had no alibi.”
“It could be that Giglio was attending a
fifth-column rally at the time and couldn’t
alibi,” I says absently.
Snooty snaps his fingers and ogles me.
“Why, Scoop, you amaze me. Out of the
mouths of babies and characters like you,
Scoop. You give me courage to go on.”
“Why, what did I say?” I ask the
halfwit.
“I thought so,” Snooty grins. “It is
when you forget to think that you say the
smartest things. I think I will call up the
babe. She works in Filene’s basement and
was Miss Chelsea in a pageant at Revere
last summer. If she did not have hair the
color of a banana and didn’t have buck
teeth, she would remind you of Rita
Hayworth, Scoop. Wait here.”
“I suppose if her friend did not have a
harelip and crossed eyes, she would be a
ringer for Betty Grable, huh?”
“I have got a chance, Scoop,” Snooty
says as he trots to the phone booth. “Did
you ever hear of association of ideas? Iron
Jaw never did.”
E MEET the two dolls later on
Washington Street. Snooty’s number
is a lanquid character with eyes as big as
manhole covers and she only has to put
grease on her upper lip. Her teeth cover the
lower one. My date has false eyelashes and
black bangs that went out with
phonographs and she wears earrings that
would make nice paperweights. She grabs
me like she was drowning and asks where
have I been all her life.
“Some place I wish I was now,” I says
and look gravestones at Snooty.
We take the smooches to a place on
Hanover where there is plenty of ptomaine
germs and a juke box. The dolls start to
teach us La Conga and I throw out a hip
and put a half-hitch in my sacroiliac. My
babe has to help me back to the table.
W
HELL-SCENT HEADLINES 5
“Some dud I drew, Mame,” my doll
sniffs at her pal. “He ain’t danced, I bet,
sincet the victory ball after Gettysburg.
Say, look at the sailors over there, Mame.”
“Is there an osteopath in the house?” I
ask.
Snooty seems to be getting along with
his torch. She says he reminds her of a guy
named Earl Carrol and asks is he a
theatrical producer.
“Why, er, I have put on a few shows,”
Snooty lies. “While I was on Broadway—”
“I knew it,” his frail says. “That green
suit told me. Look, if you ever need
somebody to put on a specialty number, I
got a routine that—”
“He is a newspaper reporter,” I says. “I
will not sit here and let him rib you
innocent girls. I—”
“Why, the fourfiusher!” Mame says.
“Come on, Vi’let. We’ve joined the navy.”
Mame hands Snooty a wallop in the eye
and walks away. Snooty has to get a raw
steak to put over his eye and they soak him
a dollar and a quarter for it.
“And no mushrooms with it,” I says. “It
is robbery. But it serves you right, Snooty
Piper.”
While the smooches are being
convoyed out, Snooty says I have no sense
of humor. He seems about to hang one on
me when he suddenly pulls back his fist.
“Why, I have an idea, Scoop. The doll
give it to me. Did you ever hear of a Latin
who took measures to correct the aroma of
garlic. And dames like we just turned over
to the armed forces are a dime a dozen,
Scoop. But dames with—I must get out of
here.”
“Where are you goin’? To open up a
theatrical agency?” I twit.
“Could be,” Snooty says. “First, I must
go to Dorchester and look over the business
section. I am interested in a hat shop,
Scoop. It is the characters who play long
odds on the ponies that make the most,
don’t they?”
“I am tired,” I says. “I am goin’ home.”
I do not see Snooty all the next day. Or
the next. Dogface Woolsey says to tell
Snooty he is fired when I see him. During
Snooty’s absence, there is developments in
the Hillary bump-off. The Latin refuses to
sign his name to a statement in the
LaGrange Street grill room. He still won’t
alibi. Mrs. Hillary told the D.A. that Giglio
knew she and her spouse went to the tavern
a couple of nights a week. They were that
crazy over spaghetti with meat sauce.
“If ever a guy was hooked,” I says to
myself, “Gorgonzola is. They got enough
on him to smother him.”
Snooty calls me late in the day. “Hello,
pal,” he says. “If you have time stop
around in my office at 17 Avery Street. It is
on the second floor. If you have any
pictures of actresses or such, bring them as
I would like to tack them up.”
“I don’t believe it,” I says. “You mean
you are—”
I hurry out of the Evening Star, up
Friend Street, across Scollay Square and
down Tremont to Avery. I run up a flight
of stairs and stand in front of a door. It
says. PIPER ENTERPRISES, INC. H. H.
PIPER, PRES. A doll pushes me out of the
way. She has red hair and a strong arm. She
goes in and I trail at her heels.
There is a desk in one corner of the
room and Snooty Piper sits at it. He has a
purple carnation in his green lapel and has
on a fancy checkered vest.
“Good afternoon,” Snooty says to the
redhead and then swivels in his chair to
look at another brick-top. “Have a chair,
madam, as you are next.”
“I am here,” I says.
“Sit down, Scoop,” Snooty says.
“Look, this is not funny, you—” I
begin, but Snooty ignores me.
“Now I am startin’ a production to tour
the summer theatres,” Snooty says to the
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 6
talent in the office. “I will use a chorus of
only redheads and that don’t mean they
will be wigs. It is a new idea in show
business. I will bill you as the
Redheadettes. Not bad, huh? I consulted
the best Broadway producers an’ they
said—your name is Trixie Truman, hah?
Well, I have got your name an'
measurements and will call you. Next doll,
please. What is your name, please?”
“Angela Fogarty. I am sure you will
like me, Mr. Piper. I acted in amateur
theatrics and they said I was a wow.”
The doll flashes a lot of gam and a rolls
her lamps at Snooty. I know she is hired.
“I will call you,” Snooty says. “Next I
time you come bring a bathin’ suit so’s I
can tell if—”
“And how, Mr. Piper,” Angela says. “I
got one that didn’t even pass the censhures
at the beach last August. Be seein’ you.”
NOOTY is quite gaga when this
redhead ankles out. I go to a water
cooler and draw him a glass of ice water.
“Take this, Mr. DeMille,” I says. “Now
look. Come clean, as you can be arrested
for false pretenses. You can get ten years-”
“Did you notice anythin’ about her,
Scoop?” Snooty says. “For twenty-four
hours I have been interviewin’ dolls with
red hair and I bet all of them in Boston
have been here. This Angela now. Let’s
see. She works in the box office of the
Beacon movie house on Boylston. Give me
another glass of water, Scoop. All ice.”
“You will need it,” I says. “You are
fired, Snooty. Dogface told me.”
“Scoop, I close up in five minutes. I
must go and—”
“Why, you are goin’ to the dogs,” I
says, snatching up some crumpled paper
from Snooty’s desk. I spread it out and see
it is a Shen-Shen envelope. “Tsk-tsk,” I
smirk. “The next thing you will be chewin’
licorish.”
“Come on, Scoop,” Snooty says.
“Where?”
“To the Beacon movie house on
Boylston. I must do some shadowing
tonight as Giglio Gorgonzola is liable to be
eased off for something he did not do.”
“That is enough,” I says flatly. “That is
too much. If Giglio isn’t guilty, then a
Commando is a coward.”
I go with Snooty anyway. We lounge
across the street from the Beacon movie
house until it closes at eleven-thirty.
“There she is,” Snooty says. “With that
big guy. Come on and follow me. I will
nonchalantly saunter up and act like I run
into her by chance. Do you notice anything
about her yet?”
“She looks like any redhead to me,” I
sniff. “You are nuts!”
We pass by the redhead and her boy
friend and then a shrill voice calls out, “Oh,
Mr. Piper! Oh, Mr. Piper!”
“Why—er—how do you do?” Snooty
says, eyeing the bulky citizen she is with.
“Meet my friend, Al Bispo,” the bricktop says.
“Hi ya,” Bispo says and grabs Snooty’s
hand and squeezes. I can see tears come out
of the crackpot’s eyes and see his knees
buckle.
“Boy,” Snooty says. “He is no elf. How
are you, Miss—er—”
“Fogarty. Remember? Al, this is the
gentleman who might put me in a show.”
“He better,” Al Bispo says in a voice
filled with gravel. He laughs and I have
heard a better sense of humor come out of a
bear cage. Snooty keeps looking at his
dislocated fingers and at Al Bispo’s big
lunchhook.
“Won’t it be grand?” Angela chirps.
“Yeah? Well, listen to me, babe. He
even tries to make a pass at you an’ I’ll
bend him into a pretzel. I’ve heard of these
producers an’ they are all wolves. I’m
warnin’ you, you green frog! Wit’ Angela
S
HELL-SCENT HEADLINES 7
it better be strictly business or I’ll take you
like this an’—”
“Let go!” Snooty yips. “Let go. Ugh!
Po-o-olice!”
“Don’t be like that, Al,” Angela says.
“Why, you don’t know your own strength.
Workin’ in a foundry makes you a lug like
I said.”
“Sorry, pal,” Al Bispo says. I even
shiver at the look in his peepers. Snooty
straightens out his neck, puts an ear back in
place and takes a deep breath.
“It is awright,” Snooty says. “Boy,
what you would do to me if I did try and git
Angela, huh?”
“You can say that again,” Al says.
“Come on, babe.”
“Well, what now?” I says, mystified.
“We will call and see Abigail.”
“This time of night?”
“Why, she is broad-minded, Scoop.
Let’s get a street car.”
“You are on your own, Snooty Piper. I
have had enough of this silly business,” I
says. “Good evening.” I walk out on
Snooty Piper and am pleased at my will
power.
T TEN o’clock the next morning I get
worried and call up the Hepplethwaite
residence in Back Bay. Abigail is a rich old
doll who could pay up the deficit of three
warring countries out of one of her bank
accounts.
“Hello,” I says. “Is Mr. Piper there?
This is Scoop Binney.”
“He was, Binney,” Abigail says. “I sent
him over to Harvard to see a professor. The
guy is really whacky this time, don’t you
think? How is everything, Binney?”
“Fine,” I says. “I will ring off and go
look for him. It is sad all right. I knew he’d
go to the squirrels quick. Good-bye now.”
An hour later I am walking toward
Harvard and get near one of the gates when
I see Snooty Piper. He is sitting on a bench
and talking to himself. A squirrel is sitting
on his shoulder and wondering just how to
begin on the nut. I sneak back of a tree near
Snooty.
“. . . crystallizes in hexagonalrhombohedral prisms and is isomorphous
with the stable grey modification of
selenium. Having three isotopes—”
I cannot stand it anymore and jump
from behind the tree.
“Just come with me, Snooty,” I says.
“There is a veterinary nearby. What is it
you are raving about? Prisons and
mortifications and hellangones and all.
Who is a dope?”
“Scoop, I’m glad you got here. Abigail
referred me to a professor of the Harvards
who is good on metals. I have discovered
the murderer of Bunker Hillary.”
“Stay right here and I will get a
stretcher and a strait jacket from the
Harvard medicals,” I says. “You wait here.
I shouldn’t have left you alone.”
“The other day I saw that store I was
looking at in Dorchester, Scoop. It had a
hat sale on. They were perfect for redheads.
When Al Bispo tried to assault me last
night, I—I knew it then. This is some case,
Scoop. Next we will visit a foundry in
Charlestown. If he is not in that one, there
is another in Everett. We must hurry,
Scoop.”
“That Shen-Shen is murderous,” I gulp.
“Well, come on.”
We find out that there is an Al Bispo
working in the foundry in Charlestown. We
hang around until the day shift leaves and
we see Al Bispo. We trail him to a house
eighteen blocks away, on Monument
Street.
“In a couple of minutes we will go up
and call, Scoop,” Snooty says. “We will
ask him for an alibi at the time of the
assassination of Bunker Hillary. What can
we lose?”
“Only our lives,” I says. “I guess I am
A
TEN DETECTIVE ACES 8
just a pessimist.”
The landlady says we can go right up
and see Al Bispo as long as we are friends
of his. We walk up two flights and knock
on a door. Al Bispo opens it and he is nude
to the waist and is in the midst of
shampooing foundry dust out of his curly
locks. From where I stand I can smell
something and it is not jasmine. My spine
starts crinkling.
“Why, it is the theatre guy,” Bispo
says. “Come in, pal.”
“Wrong,” Snooty says nasty. “I am a
detective. I have come to accuse you of the
terrible murder of Bunker Hillary. Just
before he passed out he said he smelled
garlic on his assailant. You got an alibi?”
“You kiddin’?” Al Bispo says. His cars
wiggle and his eyes roll around in his
dome. Scoop Binney is not going to be
caught napping this time and he sidles over
to a table where there is a big tobacco jar.
“No,” Snooty says, “I will tell you why
you bumped off Bunker who you never
saw or did not even know. Mrs. Bunker
had hair the color of Angela Fogarty of
whom you are so jealous, hah? She also
wore the same kind of hat as Angela the
night she went to the spaghetti joint.
Somebody tipped you off that they saw
Angela with another guy and you beat it
over there to investigate. You looked
through the winder of the joint and saw
Mrs. Hillary sitting with Bunker. Her back
was to you and all you saw was the funny
green plantpot hat with the green feather in
it. You turned beast and went out back to
waylay Bunker.”
“Ha, ha,” Bispo says and he sounds like
he is laughing at one of his boss’s jokes.
“You left that crumpled up, empty
Shen-Shen envelope at the scene of the
crime, Shen-Shen is for bad breath, ain’t it,
Al? Goin’ about with a swell trick like
Angela, you can’t have halitosis that smells
like garlic,” Snooty keeps on. “Why, you
smell like a convention of organ-grinder
operators right now, Al. Angela was maybe
tryin’ to give you the air you needed for
your breath so bad. Well, I can prove—I
can put Angela alongside Mrs. Hillary and
the D.A. could add up. I figured out how to
make all the redheads in Boston come to
me so I opened a theatrical agency and put
in an ad—”
UST as Bispo slaps Snooty across the
chops with a wet towel and tries to
follow up with a left and right, I toss the
tobacco jar at him and crockery flies all
over the place when it disintegrates against
Bispo’s noggin. But Bispo is very tough
and has enough moxie left to go two
rounds with Joe Louis. He whirls on me
and grazes me with an uppercut and I
wonder why such a lug as Bispo would
keep canaries as I backpedal into a
bathroom.
“Help!” Snooty howls. “Where are you,
Scoop?”
“On the white cliffs of Dover,” I yodel.
“You should see the bluebirds, Snooty.
Can’t you hear them?”
I come to quick and the basin is full of
soapy water where Bispo was shampooing
his hair. I scoop up two handfuls of the
suds and make my way out to the battle.
Snooty is fighting a rear guard action like
the one that took place at Dunkirk and
Bispo is having more success with Snooty
than the Krauts had with the British.
I throw a handful of suds and it hits
Bispo in the right eye. The other gob of
suds hits him in the left eye and he is quite
helpless for a few moments and needs a
cup and a handful of pencils.
It turns out to be some soap opera or I
should say uproar. While Snooty hangs on
to Bispo’s legs, I snatch a pillow case off
the bed and wrap Bispo’s dome in it and
the tough character is no good at blind
man’s buff. We circle him like Apaches
J
HELL-SCENT HEADLINES 9
circling a covered wagon and keep
punching until Bispo wilts.
We are sitting on him when the
landlady, six roomers and four cops come
in and arrest us all for disorderly conduct.
We are rushed to the Charlestown bastille.
“That citizen murdered Bunker
Hillary,” Snooty says to the cops. “I can
prove it. Ask him where he was the night
of the crime. Smell his breath. It reeks of
garlic.”
“I was in Saugus that night and I
remember it easy,” Bispo says. “I was in a
roadside joint on the Turnpike between the
hours of nine and twelve.”
The cops check up. Finally a big
flatfoot laughs right in Bispo’s face and
says to think up another as that was the
night they had the air raid blackout in
Saugus and that the joint was closed.
Snooty starts telling his story to the
gendarmes and he says for them to pick up
Angela Fogarty and Bunker Hillary’s
widow. Al Bispo breaks down and says he
might as well admit it.
“A pal of mine phoned me that night.
He says he saw my dame gettin’ out of a
swell car in front of that joint in
Dorchester,” Bispo gulps out. “So I beat it
over there and squint through the winder.
The doll has her back to the winder but
there is that funny lookin’ hat and red hair.
I sees red and somethin’ snapped in my
dome. I was another man. I went out back
and hid near where that jalopy was parked.
Then when this big shot comes out, I bang
him over the scalp with a rock.
“He don’t pass out right away and
grabs at me. I smack him again but he
smelt this breath of mine. Well, then I beat
it. The next day I find out I killed an
innocent man an’ I have been haunted ever
since. I was afraid I would have to knock
off my dame too as I figgered she would
start addin’ up. But she was so dumb—”
“How can he have a garlic breath,
Snooty Piper?” I want to know, while the
cops call up the Boston bastille. “If he
don’t eat garlic?”
“That was what puzzled me, Scoop. I
went to a professor of the Harvards and
asked that. He says it is from working
around tellurium—”
“He worked in Charlestown,” I says.
“Tellurium is a metal, Scoop. In
foundaries they work on the stuff to
toughen up iron and steel,” Snooty says.
“Methyl telluride fumes get into the system
and make the foundry workers’ breath
smell like they chewed garlic in bunches.”
“Poor Iron Jaw,” I says. “This time you
have got to admit he had a tough break,
Snooty.”
We are over at police headquarters in
Boston when they spring Gorgonzola on
murder charges. Giglio beats the hot squat
but he falls right into the hands of the Gmen.
“I’m givin’ up,” Iron Jaw says. “I
would shoot a polar bear and drag it home
and when I got there it would be a black
bear chewing cinnamon sticks.”
“Why, don’t you remember?” Snooty
says to Iron Jaw. “You was in on this with
us. We just locked Gorgonzola up to get
the real killer off guard, didn’t we? Why,
wake up, Iron Jaw.”
“That is right, isn’t it?” Iron Jaw says,
snapping his fingers. He looks chocolate
eclairs at Snooty.
Can you blame me for being overboard
for a crackpot like Snooty Piper?

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